Category Archives: Songs

A Comedy of Errors

I was told this story on Sunday by a member of our Bell Choir. I thought is was pretty funny.

A couple of weeks ago, a member of my Bell Choir was playing the organ at a local Catholic wedding. She was under the impression that all she had to do was accompany the singer. Well, when she got to the church the day of the wedding, the priest informed her that she needed to play for the whole wedding service, including the liturgy. She had no music for the service, and had to rummage through the organist’s files until she found it. It wasn’t in the right order, however, so she just tried to wing it.

The organ in the church she was at is in the balcony at the back of the sanctuary, and unless people looked back, no one could see her. She phoned her cousin, who had played at several Catholic weddings, and her cousin talked her through the service. It came time for communion, and her cousin remembered that there had to be a hymn as the bread and wine were brought to the altar. She told my friend to just open the hymnal and play something. My friend hurriedly opened the hymnal and played the first chord of the song on the page to which it opened, which was in D major, and realized that she had opened the hymnal to Oh Come, All Ye Faithful, which wouldn’t have worked out for a Spring wedding. She sustained the D major chord with the foot pedals as she flipped through the hymnal to find another hymn in D major, and finally found one. I guess the rest of the wedding service went ok.

I can only imagine how nerve-racking that must have been. I sort of wish she had played Oh Come, All Ye Faithful. That would have really made the wedding one for the books.

Any comedy of errors you can tell about? What are some songs you would like to hear at a wedding?

RIP Michael Nesmith

In 1966 I was at a difficult age.  I was a little too young to have ridden the Beatles wave, but old enough that I knew I wasn’t a little kid anymore and wanting to connect with the rock `n roll world.  When the Monkees hit the scene, they were just my speed.  Like most of my girlfriends, I loved the pre-fab group (although at the age of 11, I didn’t really understand that part to begin with).  Since most of my friends adored Davy, I resisted that tug and settled on Peter Tork.  I knew he was the oldest Monkee, but he played a lovable goof who came off as the youngest, most vulnerable.  I was a loyal Monkees fan until the band broke up 1969 (if you are a fan, you might protest this date, but I count the breakup as early `69 when Peter resigned.)  I won’t go so far as to say that I went to Carleton because Peter has also attended, but it would be a lie to say I wasn’t aware!

I was sad to see that Michael Nesmith passed away on Friday.  He was never my favorite but I did like the “twang” that was in the songs that he penned and sang.  His signature wool cap came about when he wore it to the first audition for the tv show and one of the producers remembered it.  It was also said that he was very calm at that audition, giving off an air of not caring whether he got a part or not.  He carried that aloofness with him throughout his Monkees’ career; there were a few times that he did not appear with the group in later reunion gigs, although he had just finished on a tour a few weeks before his death.   He wrote many of their songs; my favorite is probably “You May Just Be the One”:

In a side note, I found out many years later that his mother was the inventor of Liquid Paper.  In this day and age of the computer and word processing software you might not know what Liquid Paper is, but if you were a secretary or typist during the 70s and 80s, you certainly do.  It was a lifesaver back then. 

With Michael’s death, there is only one Monkee left – Mickey Dolenz.  Davy passed away in 2012 and my Peter passed away almost 3 years ago now.  I know that their music is now considered a little on the bubblegum pop spectrum, but they are still my first love.  I got out all their CDs and played them over the weekend.

Did you have any hero worship when you were younger?

Unprepared

Last evening, our handball choir performed in a musical holiday extravaganza put on by the local college at our church. We played along with the Community choir, college vocal ensembles, college band, and smaller vocal and instrumental ensembles for a very ambitious 90 minute program.

Our practice schedule was interrupted by COVID early in the fall, and we never caught up. We weren’t prepared for all our pieces last night, and our main goals were to not get lost in the music and to end together. Only an experienced bell ringer would have caught our mistakes, but we each felt our individual errors keenly. I made mistakes and got lost in places I never got lost in before. Husband described it afterwards as a musical ordeal. I believe it was Gustav Holst who said that if it is worth doing, it is worth doing badly. We are just relieved it is over and now we can focus on our last two performances on December 17 and 19.

Any performances you would like to forget about? What pageants have you participated in?

Royal Mail

Husband and I ordered some classical audio cd’s from Amazon recently. I usually like to order from Archiv, but everything there was on backorder.

Our selections were fairly eclectic, ranging from choral music by Arvo Part and Henrik Goreki, to a cd by Brooklyn Rider, a string quartet, playing with an Irish fiddler.

When you order from Amazon, you never quite know where the products are coming from. Three of the cd’s we ordered came from overseas. A London /Decca recording of Chopin nocturnes played by Vladimir Ashkenazy came from Japan. It arrived speedily, several days before even the US cd’s arrived. It is a lovely recording, but all the liner notes are in Japanese!

Two of the cd’s are coming from England. One is from Banbury, Oxfordshire. The other is from Stockport, in Cheshire. That particular cd is being shipped by Royal Mail. I have no idea what that means in terms of speed of delivery, but it sounds so impressive! I imagine it being delivered by someone in a Beefeater uniform.

Any interesting shipping or delivery stories? What music have you discovered lately? What would you like to receive via Royal Mail?

A Man For All Seasons

Dear friends,

My sweet dad, Steve Grooms, died at home early on Thanksgiving morning. I feel so incredibly lucky that we spent most of Wednesday together as he wasn’t feeling well that day. Two visits from 911 paramedics and multiple calls to advice nurses and his doctors couldn’t shed light on what was happening, and the ERs were/are full due to COVID and couldn’t take him. Despite normal vitals and no pain (just discomfort), he and I both knew something was wrong enough to warrant our needing to be together in what I know now were his final hours. It appeared he passed in his sleep sometime after I left to go home and sleep, and I hope against hope that he didn’t suffer.

Please don’t regret the timing. Dad had so much to be thankful for. A long and rich life full of love and laughter. Beloved family. Wonderful dogs. Adventures and stories; oh so many stories. Stories told with the richness of his appreciation for human nature, for humor, for empathy and compassion, history, and nature. So many stories told to you. And just as much as he loved the telling, he loved the gift of receiving a good story. My greeting, dear friends, isn’t accidental. I feel as if I know so many of you through his recounting of your presence in his life. And I am humbled, grateful, and so deeply appreciative for what this community meant to him.

You sustained him in the dark years following his divorce. You showed up to help when rheumatoid arthritis and congestive heart failure made life alone in his home almost unsustainable. You sawed up fallen trees and eventually helped him pack up and leave Minnesota to join us in Oregon. You were with him in words and spirit through the new lives he created, first in Oregon, then Michigan, then finally back in his beloved Minnesota. He carried you, his community, with him. You were a daily, if not hourly, gift to him. The people he wanted to process his life with, the friends he treasured.

I am beyond heartbroken right now and can’t seem to figure out what happens next. I keep reaching for the phone to call Dad to tell him how awful this all is, until I remember… Know that we will gather sometime in the future, likely in the Spring, to honor his life and you will all be invited. Until then, I invite you to share your memories of him here, in the space he so loved. Renee can forward anything you wish to send to me directly and know that I will respond as soon as I am able. 

Thank you. My family and I are so grateful for the gift of your love and friendship toward Dad in these years. It means everything to us, as it meant everything to him. All my love,

Molly

Working Music

Writing therapy progress notes and psychological evaluations is tedious work for me. I need music while I write. In fact, I have music playing in my office unless I have a client in the office with me. I usually listen to classical music, although lately I have streamed Radio Heartland, too. A counselor friend of my son insists that classic honky-tonk music is the best accompaniment for him to write therapy progress notes. Husband needs dead silence or else he gets distracted when he writes.

Many years ago, the office administration staff at my agency were delighted when our Regional Director at the time phoned to let staff know where he was on a drive back from Fargo, and then forget to turn off his cell phone. He proceeded to sing (well, bellow) along to a rather raucous country western song on the radio about true love. The administrative secretary put it on speaker phone so all the staff could hear him. When they teased him about it, he said “Well, I really missed my wife”.

We listen to classical music or the XM Radio 40’s channel or jazz channels when we drive together. Lately I have revisited CD’s by Solas, Salsa Celtica, and Le Vent du Nord on my way to work. Something about the right music makes me really ready to start my day.

I have a long list of CD’s I intend to spoil myself with for Christmas, mostly classical recordings. I am particularly interested in recordings of music by Ludovico Einaudi, a modern Italian composer. Check him out if you aren’t familiar with his work.

What music helps you think and get things done? What are some new recordings you have discovered? What music annoys you? What music makes you sentimental?

Goodbye, Paddy

Sad news yesterday with the death of Paddy Moloney, the founder of The Chieftains. He was 83.

I was woefully ignorant of traditional music until I moved to Winnipeg in 1980 and went to the Winnipeg Folk Festival for the first time. I never saw the Chieftans live, but their influence on folk and traditional music is immense.

One of my favorite Chieftains albums is one they did with Nancy Griffith and Roger Daltrey. The following is a video of the whole live performance at the Belfast Opera House in 1992. Do watch it all. It is magical. My favorite part is at the very end with Nancy singing “Ford Econoline”.

I remember hearing the story about Derrick Bell, the harpist, who was criticized by some classical musician colleagues for going off and joining “some tatty folk group” when he joined the Chieftains. So glad he did! We need more “tatty folk groups” like the Chieftains.

Ok, Baboons, let’s hear some of your favorite traditional music of Ireland and the British Isles. Why is it so appealing? Have you ever played the pipes?

He Said She Said

I spent an hour or so at Urgent Care yesterday (not a big deal – just wanted to be reassured that my self care was OK and to get a tetanus booster.

While waiting I noticed a woman go in and out of the UC door a few times; she was wearing a Darth Vader smock.  Long gone are the days when everybody is required to wear white!  When it turned out that she was the nurse who was going to rewrap my hand and give me my shot, I was elated.  I told her how much I like her smock and she told me about her other Leia smock.  We traded our favorite quotes from Star Wars.  Since she is a Darth fan, hers is “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”   I like that one but I do gravitate to Yoda “ Do.  Or do not.  There is no try.”

On the way home I was thinking about this encounter (which was really the highlight of my day) and how many times I use quotes from my favorite movies.

  • “On the side.” When Harry Met Sally
  • “Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges.”  Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  • “You know, assholes.” Blazing Saddles
  • “Candygram for Mongo.” Blazing Saddles (You’d be surprised how often you can make this work.)
  • “You overestimate both of us.” People Will Talk
  • “Snap out of it.” Moonstruck
  • “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”  The Fly
  • “There will be blood tonight.” Princess Bride
  • “We are men of action. Lies do not become us.”  Princess Bride  (Note: I say this to myself.  Not aloud.)
  • “You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.” Princess Bride   (Again, never said outloud.  And I say it to myself with Mandy Patinkin’s accent.)
  • “Now they’re practical.” Romancing the Stone
  • “Not exactly firing on all thrusters.” Star Trek IV
  • “Fun fun fun til her/your daddy takes the T-Bird away.” (yes, I know this a song not a movie, but, what the heck, it’s my blog post…..)

Any quotes from movies (or tv or book or songs) that you find yourself using in every life?

 

 

 

Early retirement

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Peterchiapperino

Working for the State of ND can be a pretty good deal if you stay long enough. They have good benefits and the option of participating in a 357 plan (the government version of a 401K plan). There is also a pension plan, and as it currently works, you can retire with a full pension when your age and years of service add up to 85. That means, depending on when you start, that you could retire well before the Federal retirement age for your cohort.

I reached the Rule of 85 on June 1st of this year. I have decided to not retire now and work three more years until I also can receive full Social Security benefits.

Husband reached the Rule of 85 in 2014, and promptly retired and started working on the Reservation. Just last week, he filled out another application with the State to work 10 hours a week at the Human Service Center in Bismarck. He is the only applicant. We presume he will get the job. That means he will be a “Double Dipper”, someone with a pension who also works part time for the State. He is excited.

I was tickled to read that Tony Bennett, age 95, has finally decided to stop touring and retire. I also understand that he has Dementia. How wonderful that he could work so long and like what he was doing. Husband feels he needs a real paycheck, not just Social Security and his pension. When I am done in three years, I want to be done. No extra work, nothing. Husband had better realize that I am not putting up with his working until he is 95!

How long did you imagine you would work? Is retirement a positive concept for you? What are your favorite memories of Tony Bennett?

Party Time

Last week was full of more social gatherings for us than we have had in more than a year. At an outdoor ceremony at a city park, Husband and other officers for the local food pantry accepted a cheque from the city for a new security system. Husband got to rub elbows with city officials, Rotarians, former university presidents, and other local worthies. He then did some church visiting to a shut-in couple we haven’t seen for months. It culminated in a wonderful party on Saturday night in Mandan at a city park about 10 miles outside of town at a man-made reservoir.

Dear friends of ours, the ones who gave us the Arikara bean seeds, celebrated their 27th wedding anniversary. They are a couple older than we are, in their early 70’s. He is Native American. She is white. They are both addiction counselors. They renewed their wedding vows with the help of family, friends, former colleagues, and an Indian Elvis Impersonator from Oklahoma. The party was held in a large, open air picnic shelter.

There was plenty of food provided by the couple and kept hot in huge electric roasters. Guests brought food, too. It was a real pot luck feast. There were about 50 people in attendance. The trick was keeping one’s self hydrated and the perishables cool, since the temperature, at 5:00 PM, was 103. I feared for Elvis in his white jump suit. He sang and danced and gyrated despite the heat.

Elvis was fascinating. He is a member of the Choctaw nation and also is an actor and traditional dancer. Our friend found him by searching YouTube videos under the name NDN Elvis. He sang to a prerecorded accompaniment so he didn’t need a live back up band. He also conducted the renewal ceremony. A former tribal councilman read selections from the Bible. There were flower bouquets, sage bundles, and sweet grass braids. Family had made a photo display of the couple’s years together.

The only thing that didn’t work out was the Indian flute player, Keith Bear. He is a rather well known Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation musician. You can find him on You Tube, too. He had to travel unexpectedly to the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota to help with the passing of a notable spiritual leader who was present at Wounded Knee. There always seems to be at least one thing that doesn’t go as planned at a big party.

Tell some wedding or anniversary party stories. What worked? What didn’t? What would you want an Elvis Impersonator to sing at your party?